LAPT Punta del Este: Fuentes leads the Day 1 pack

lapt-promo.gifIt took two rooms to fit the field for this year's LAPT Punta del Este. Both the downstairs ballroom and the upstairs poker room at the Mantra Hotel & Casino were packed to the gills this afternoon, 307 players putting up $3,700 apiece for a chance at an LAPT title. More than half the field traveled only a short distance from Argentina, Brazil, or elsewhere in Uruguay, while others endured day-long journeys across oceans and continents to take their shot at the $279,330 first-place prize. By the time the sun set over La Barra, the field was whittled down to the 145 players who will return tomorrow for Day 2. During the last level, it was a horse race for the chip lead, Uruguay's Martin Fuentes taking it by a nose with 118,000.

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Day 1 chip leader Martin Fuentes

Hot on Fuentes' heels is Ernesto Panno, who wasn't disappointed in the least about finishing the day in second position.

"I don't care. I'm going to win anyway!" he quipped as he bagged and tagged his 110,000 in chips.

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Ernesto Panno

The biggest names in Latin American poker were in the field today along with a few surprises. Team PokerStars Pros Alex Gomes, Andre Akkari, Nacho Barbero, Veronica Dabul, Leo Fernandez, Maria "Maridu" Mayrinck, Gualter Salles, and virtually the entire Brenes family were on hand along with Neil "Bad Beat" Channing and Keith "The Camel" Hawkins, who traveled to Punta del Este all the way from the U.K.

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Veronica Dabul

Akkari met his tournament end when his kings were cracked by aces. Gomes ran top pair into a set, and Salles endured a serious cooler when he flopped a straight, only to run into his opponent's higher straight. Five Team Pros were left with chips in front of them at the end of the day: Dabul, Fernandez, Barbero, Mayrinck, and the Costa Rican "Chark," Humberto Brenes.

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Leo Fernandez

For a look at some selected chip counts from the end of Day 1, check out the LAPT Punta del Este chip count page. We're expecting a complete list of official chip counts shortly and will post them in the same spot.

48 players will walk away from this tournament with a payday. To check out what they're competing for, head over to the LAPT Punta del Este prize pool and winners page.

Our Spanish is lousy and our Portuguese even worse, so if you'd like to re-live Day 1 in either tongue, hit up our colleagues at the PokerStars Spanish blog or the PokerStars Brazilian blog.

If you're keen to stick with the English language, here's a look back at our Day 1 coverage:

Day 1, Levels 7 and 8
Day 1, Levels 5 and 6
Day 1, Levels 3 and 4
Day 1, Levels 1 and 2
The dawn of a new day
Party professionals
Where South America feels more like St. Tropez

Don't forget about our video blog team either. Check out their interviews and recaps over on PokerStars.tv

Join us again tomorrow at noon local time (EST+3) for continuing coverage of the LAPT Punta del Este. For now, a "muy, muy rojo" steak and a cold cerveza are calling.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour